Workshopping towards a GM Industry Strategy

Arjun Sikand

“A city synonymous with innovation and collaboration from the first test tube baby to the isolation of graphene, Manchester is a place of medical and technological pioneers…”

If you haven’t seen the promo video for Manchester, you should, it’s a great sell. But having now lived and worked in Manchester for the past year and a bit, you come to realise it’s not just empty words. The spirit of collaboration and the desire to collaborate for the benefit of the people of the city region is very much there. True, at times we need to work on the ‘how’, but collaboration is integral in everything from the combined authority to the Health and Social Care Partnership to Health Innovation Manchester itself, borne from the idea to drive innovation and change through the collaboration of academia, industry and healthcare to both improve outcome and constrain costs.

There is a common desire to make Greater Manchester even greater. To drive the development of our life sciences and digital health ecosystem through university spin outs and inward investment. And to transform our health and care system through strategic partnerships with industry, to last the next 70 years and beyond.

Recent examples of this desire for innovation / change would include: the awarding of a Local Care and Health Record Exemplar (LCHRE) status, two NHS vanguard sites, an NHS testbed, a Global Digital Exemplar and the most recent announcement that Qiagen will be creating a leading precision medicine campus on the Oxford Road corridor, to name but a few. When you stop to think about it, GM has achieved some incredible feats. So, the question is, how can we do even better?

Health Innovation Manchester is working to make Greater Manchester a global nexus for people to play in the intersection between technological, biological and digital, in order to co-create solutions across health and social care, with at its heart, the needs of the citizen.

By working with our partners, we can make the most of the myriad of opportunities whether national or international, private or public in a more systematic and organised manner.

To discuss just that, Health Innovation Manchester convened the industry facing elements of a number of organisations within GM for the first of a series of workshops. Representatives from Trustech, Salford Royal Foundation Trust, MIDAS, Growth Company, Manchester Science Partnerships, The University of Manchester, Connected Health Cities, North West eHealth, MIMIT (Manchester: Improving Medicine with Innovation and Technology), Connected Health Ecosystems, Medicines Discovery Catapult, BioNow, and the Clinical Research Network engaged in healthy debate and questioning.

Given the diversity of the group in respect to their individual form, function and interests, a lot of the initial discussion revolved around trying to firstly align a clear understanding and articulation of GM needs. After which, we touched on the more challenging aspects of which industry players do we target for strategic partnerships and how do we reach out to them? The questions were not necessarily endless, but there were enough.

Bottom line- it’s complex. But the first step has been taken and from the workshop a way forward, with broad agreement on 3 key areas;  the model of using the existing GM organisations to highlight our unique differentiator in a manner that addresses the priority needs for industry.   As a collective, we believe that our devolved health and social care system and digital and academic assets put us in a strong position to collaborate with industry for the benefit of our population.

Of course, testing our assumptions and approach early with industry as the “customers” for our offering, and communicating with a broader stakeholder group across GM is essential, so watch this space.

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